Cocoa Farming Techniques → How To Start Cocoa Farming

The demand for cocoa seed worldwide is extremely high and the price
 in international market is quite encouraging to farmers. 
You already know what cocoa is used for, don't you? 
There will be chocolate on the shelf without cocoa the seeds. 
Confectionery and Beverage making companies will go out 
of business if cocoa farmers stops farming. 

You plant it once and harvest it throughout your lifetime and still pass it
 to the generation next! 
Cocoa beans is one of the hottest agricultural product in the market 
anywhere in the world. If you have ever been to cocoa farm, you'd realize 
it's one of the best place to work and get close to nature.

Setting Up Cocoa Farm

Locate a large expanse of forest land with the appropriate climate and suitable
 rainfalls. Cocoa seedling is very sensitive and can die off quickly if not handled
 properly. Under the forest canopy is the ideal place to plant cocoa. 

The land you intends to use for your cocoa farming must be covered by 
rain forest canopy.  The trees need even temperatures between 21-23 
degrees Celsius, with a fairly constant rainfall of 1000-2500mm per year.

Get good and improved cocoa variety from reliable source. 
International Institute for Tropical Agriculture will be a good place to get the
 cocoa variety with some advices. Or if you want to take the gamble, 
you just get the cocoa seeds directly from cocoa farm from experience 
cocoa farmers.

Clear the forest and plant the cocoa seeds at the beginning of raining season.
Best period for planting cocoa is around April May when the raining reason is
 just picking up.

Climate Condition For Cocoa Farming

Cocoa is produced in countries in a belt between 10ºN and 10ºS of the 
Equator, where the climate is appropriate for growing cocoa trees. 
The largest producing countries are Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia.

The natural habitat of the cocoa tree is in the lower storey of the evergreen 
rainforest, and climatic factors, particularly temperature and rainfall,
 are important in encouraging optimum growth.

Cocoa plants respond well to relatively high temperatures, with a 
maximum annual average of 30 - 32ºC and a minimum average of 18 - 21ºC.

Variations in the yield of cocoa trees from year to year are affected more 
by rainfall than by any other climatic factor. 
Trees are very sensitive to a soil water deficiency. Rainfall should be 
plentiful and well distributed through the year. An annual rainfall level
 of between 1,500mm and 2,000mm is generally preferred. Dry spells, 
where rainfall is less than 100mm per month, should not exceed three months.

A hot and humid atmosphere is essential for the optimum development of cocoa
 trees. In cocoa producing countries, relative humidity is generally high: often 
as much as 100% during the day, falling to 70-80% during the night.

The cocoa tree will make optimum use of any light available and traditionally 
has been grown under shade. Its natural environment is the Amazonian 
forest which provides natural shade trees. Shading is indispensable in a cocoa
 tree's early years.

Soil Condition And Property

Cocoa needs a soil containing coarse particles and with a reasonable quantity of
 nutrients, to a depth of 1.5m to allow the development of a good root system.
 Below that level it is desirable not to have impermeable material, so that 
excess water can drain away. Cocoa will withstand waterlogging for short 
periods, but excess water should not linger. The cocoa tree is sensitive to a lack 
of water, so the soil must have both water retention properties and good 

The chemical properties of the topsoil are most important, as the plant has
 a large number of roots for absorbing nutrients. Cocoa can grow in soils with 
a pH in the range of 5.0-7.5. It can therefore cope with both acid and alkaline
 soil, but excessive acidity (pH 4.0 and below) or alkalinity (pH 8.0 and above)
 must be avoided. Cocoa is tolerant of acid soils, provided the nutrient 
content is high enough. The soil should also have a high content of organic
 matter: 3.5% in the top 15 centimetres of soil. Soils for cocoa must have 
certain anionic and cationic balances. Exchangeable bases in the soil should
 amount to at least 35% of the total cation exchange capacity (CEC), 
otherwise nutritional
 problems are likely. The optimum total nitrogen / total phosphorus ratio 
should be around 1.5.

Suitable Cocoa Varieties 

Criollos - This variety dominated the market until the middle of the 
eighteenth century, but today only a few, if any, pure Criollo trees remain.

Cocoa Seedling
Criollo is considered the finest of the luxury cocoas. Only mildly acidic and hardly
 bitter at all, it possesses a mild cocoa taste with distinctive secondary aromas
 and hints of nuts, caramel, forest fruits and tobacco. Because the Criollo plant
 is more susceptible to fungal disease and other pests, it produces smaller 
yields and its fruits are therefore more expensive.

Forastero - This cocoa is considered the forefather of all cocoa varieties and
 delivers very good harvests thanks to its robustness. It accounts for some 80%
 of global cocoa cultivation. Typical characteristics of Forastero are its 
powerful, less aromatic cocoa flavour that can in some cases be bitter or acidic.
 The back looks hard and rough and can be found easily in Nigeria, Ghana, 
and Ivory Coast.

 The Trinitario - This populations are considered to belong to the Forasteros,
 although they are descended from a cross between Criollo and Forastero.
 Trinitario planting started in Trinidad, spread to Venezuela and then to
 Ecuador, Cameroon, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Java and Papua New Guinea.

Trinitario combines the hardiness of consumer cocoa with the pleasant flavours
 of luxury cocoa. Trinitario cocoa has a powerful, aromatic cocoa taste and is 
only slightly acidic.

Cocoa Breeding Methods

Cocoa is raised from seed. Seeds will germinate and produce good plants
 when taken from pods not more than 15 days underripe.

Cutting - Tree cuttings are taken with between two and five leaves and one 
or two buds. The leaves are cut in half and the cutting placed in a pot under 
polyethylene until roots begin to grow.

Budding - A bud is cut from a tree and placed under a flap of bark on another
 tree. The budding patch is then bound with raffia and waxed tape of clear
 plastic to prevent moisture loss. When the bud is growing, the old tree above 
it is cut off.

Marcotting - A strip of bark is removed from a branch and the area covered in
 sawdust and a polyethylene sheet. The area will produce roots and the branch 
can then be chopped off and planted.

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